There are few more attended sporting events in the United States than horse racing. The sport boasts record crowds for some of the most notable events in the calendar, with racedays such as the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup attracting mainstream attention from the national media.
There are no shortage of famous venues to attend if you love horse racing in the United States, with each offering something slightly different to those that attend. But, what are some of the tracks that all visitors must attend at least once?
There are few more famous race tracks in the United States than Churchill Downs, with the legendary establishment playing host to the world famous Kentucky Derby annually in May. Churchill Downs is located in Louisville, Kentucky, and it was first officially opened in 1875.
The most famous raceday on the calendar is the Kentucky Derby, which was staged for the first time in 1875. You can check all details about the upcoming edition, which will the 150th: https://www.twinspires.com/kentuckyderby/
This race forms the opening leg of the Triple Crown, with the Kentucky Oaks being staged the day before the Derby. As one of the most prestigious tracks in the United States, it is little surprise that it has held the Breeders’ Cup on nine occasions, with their most recent staging coming in 2018.
Churchill Downs is able to hold around 170,000 fans for a raceday, and it is regularly ranked among the leading tracks by Horseplayers Association of North America. Other standout events to be staged at the track throughout the year include the Clark Handicap, Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, and the Stephen Foster Handicap.
Santa Anita Park
There are few more beautiful racecourses in the world than Santa Anita, meaning that it is a must-visit for all lovers of horse racing in the United States. Racing at the track takes place in early fall and the spring, with the premier events on the calendar coming in the forms of the Santa Anita Handicap and the Santa Anita Derby.
As one of the best all-round tracks in the United States, it has played host to the Breeders’ Cup on a record nine occasions. It was also chosen as the host site of the equestrian events for the 1984 Olympic Games. The Santa Anita Derby is one of the most important races to be staged at the track throughout the season, as it is one of the final prep races for the Kentucky Derby.
It has been a famous race to produce Derby hopefuls, with California Chrome, Justify, and I’ll Have Another all lining up at Santa Anita before landing Classic success later in the season.
Not only is Saratoga Race Course one of the most scenic horse racing tracks in the United States, but it is also one of the most important sporting venues in the country. It is widely considered to be the oldest major sporting venue in the nation, but in fact it is the fourth oldest racecourse in the U.S. Saratoga opened its doors to the public for the first time in 1863, and it continues to play host to some of the nation’s most famous races.
It is operated by the New York Racing Association, and it is owned by the State of New York. Racing at the course was rare between 1962 and 1990, but the meet now lasts for 40 days, with racing taking place five days per week between July and September. A total of 17 Grade 1 are staged at Saratoga annually, which includes prestigious contests such as the Alabama Stakes, Coaching Club American Oaks, and the Saratoga Derby.
However, the two most popular race days at the track come in the form of the Whitney and Travers Stakes. The latter is considered to be the summer Derby, with recent winners including Classic victors such as Arcangelo and Essential Quality.
All eyes will be on Del Mar Fairgrounds once again later this year, as the famous track hosts the 2024 edition of the Breeders’ Cup. It is located in California, and racing at the track has been staged since 1937 following the success achieved by Santa Anita. It has staged some legendary clashes throughout history, including the winner-take-all match race between Seabiscuit and Ligaroti in August 1938.
Aside from hosting the Breeders’ Cup this year, Del Mar will also stage six Grade 1 races. Among those include the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes, the Bing Crosby Stakes, and the Pacific Classic. The Del Mar Futurity has been a prolific race for unearthing potential stars throughout history, with Bob Baffert having regularly run his Derby contender in the race.
That was evident in 2014, as American Pharoah won a star-studded renewal of the race before later landing the Grand Slam in 2015. Other famous winners of the Grade 1 include Nyquist, Bolt d’Oro, and Best Pal.
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